Court lifts blocking of 'public burden' rule in US, but not in all states
The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned a July ruling by a federal judge in New York. Then the court ruled that the "public burden" rule was hampering nationwide efforts to contain the coronavirus. It prevents immigrants from seeking government assistance, in particular for treatment for COVID-19. Writes about it CBS News.
US District Judge Peter Hall did not provide a reason why he decided to overturn this lower court order in all states except New York, Connecticut and Vermont. All three states are suing the administration of US President Donald Trump over the "public burden" rule.
The repeal of the ruling is a temporary victory for the Trump administration and its policy of "social burden", the most severe restriction on legal immigration in recent years. A US Department of Homeland Security decree gives immigration officials more authority to refuse a green card application to immigrants who can become a burden to society, that is, use social assistance, food stamps, and also qualify for insurance for the poor.
The rule was supposed to go into effect in October 2019, but orders from federal judges delayed enforcement until February 2020 following the intervention of the Supreme Court and the lifting of injunctions from lower courts.
In April, attorneys general for New York, Connecticut and Vermont asked the Supreme Court to reconsider the decision, saying the rule harmed immigrant communities hard hit by the spread of the coronavirus. The court rejected their request, but left the states with the ability to seek legal protection in the lower courts.
States have filed applications from doctors, local officials and advocates who said immigrants across the country fear they could jeopardize their immigration status if they seek medical and government assistance during the pandemic.
Citing those statements, US judge George Daniels ruled in late July that the rule should be suspended as long as there is a virus-related emergency in the country. His argument: This ruling presents immigrants with "an impossible choice between a threat to health and personal safety and their immigration status."
Dan Hetlage, a spokesman for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), said the agency is considering a new court order, issued Wednesday, Aug. 12, to "determine the viability of re-enforcing the rule, where applicable."
Daniels suspended in July a version of the “public burden” rule that applies to people overseas who apply for immigrant visas. The rules require USCIS officers to determine if potential immigrants can become a "burden to society." They should analyze their well-being, age, educational skills, English proficiency, health status, and other factors.
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